I never leave Your hands

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”

-Isaiah 49:16

Encouragement from the Psalms

Some quiet words of encouragement from the book of Psalms. Click each picture to read the full Psalm.

psalm 2

psalm 3

psalm1

psalm4

I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves

Guys, I just discovered this song. I know I’m late, but by now you know I’m way out of the loop over here on the other side of the universe. Be blessed by these perfect words!!

Psalm 71 – I will always have hope

My husband and I recently hit a tough patch in our infertility trial. We were not sure of our next steps, and we felt so discouraged. One verse kept popping into my mind, so I thought perhaps someone else reading this may need it to “pop” into hers as well. It’s Psalm 71:14

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.

What a rich truth to be reminded of over and over. There is always hope. We always have hope. 

Here is that beautiful Psalm in its entirety….

Psalm 71

1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
    turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
    to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
6 From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
7 I have become a sign to many;
    you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
    declaring your splendor all day long.

9 Do not cast me away when I am old;
    do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
    those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue him and seize him,
    for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
    come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
    may those who want to harm me
    be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14 As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.

15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
    of your saving acts all day long—
    though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
    I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
    and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.

19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
    you who have done great things.
    Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
    many and bitter,
    you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
    and comfort me once more.

22 I will praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
    Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praise to you—
    I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
    all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
    have been put to shame and confusion.

ps71

Psalm 36 – Your faithfulness stretches to the skies

Please read and reflect on these beautiful truths from Psalm 36:5-8, then enjoy the worship song the follows.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;

your judgments are like the great deep;

man and beast you save, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house,

and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light do we see light.

The Valley of Vision (aka: This will make you cry)

A little while back I was chatting with my husband’s family on the question of the best book we ever read besides the Bible. Agreeing it was hard to really choose one, we all shared about a book that highly impacted us. My mother-in-law mentioned The Valley of Vision, and others concurred that it was really excellent. I made a mental note to read it sometime. A couple weeks later I was randomly gifted a copy, so I took that as a sign that “sometime” is now.

This morning I started reading it — it’s a book of old Puritan prayers. My husband and I decided to read one a day together before bed. I’m not typically a fan of recited prayers, as Jesus warns against praying the same words over and over like the Pharisees do (see Matthew 6). But I appreciate the poetic nature and sentiment of these very biblical, deep prayers, and the value they add to my own praying.

All that to say, the very first one in the book is the one the title comes from, and it made me tear up immediately. It is so perfect for this trial. I called my husband in for a second reading, and he too got teary. We both expressed an interest in maybe framing it to be reminded of its deep truths, which we have been learning in our trial of infertility.

Here it is (go get the tissues!)…

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

valleypic
I found this beautiful drawing someone did using this prayer. Click to see enlarge and visit the artist’s page.

Encouragement from all over (Various Resources)

In the last several days I’ve encountered all sorts of encouragement on the web. I feel like I keep posting the same pastors and writers over and over, but it’s because I really respect them, and they’re biblical, and maybe a little because I live overseas and don’t have easy access to new people. But definitely more the first two.

Lately, I’ve been trying to cultivate the habit of replacing thoughts-of-the-flesh with thoughts-of-the-Spirit (ahem, I’ve also been reading Galatians, if you can’t tell). This means, as a chronic worrier, when the “what ifs” move in and the anxiety starts to mount, instead of letting it build, I try to immediately put something else in my mind (“Whatever is true … think on these things”). For years my first line of combat has been prayer (“God, please stop these thoughts/calm my heart/make me sleep”); then reading or reciting scripture (“At times I am afraid, I trust in You)”. I’ve had to build up my arsenal in these really tough times, though, and one way I’m doing that is to always be reading at least one book of encouragement (though I may be reading a book for fun on the side, because sometimes reading books about suffering, etc. can bring me down, if I’m not in the right place for them). Anyway, it’s really been working, guys. I’ll be lying in bed, starting to worry, and will just get up and read my book until I’ve replaced the thoughts with truth.

Anyway, let me share with you some places I’ve found encouragement lately, and you can take your pick.

1.) Yup, you guessed it, I’m going to say it again… Tim Keller’s Walking with God though Pain and Suffering (specifically parts 2 +3). I actually just finished it tonight, and I practically highlighted the whole book. I’m glad I did, too, because now I can go back and reread some highlights when I need encouragement again (which will probably be in the next 10 minutes… or 30 seconds).

keller

2.) Tonight I found John Piper’s small book (under 100 pages) When the Darkness will not Lift for free (pdf) on the Desiring God website. It sounds like the perfect thing for right now, and I’ll probably finish it in one sitting. It’s about how to have joy while waiting for the Lord. Perfect, right?

darkness

3.) My husband and I watched this encouraging 9-minute video the other night before bed. Sometimes a brief encouragement, as opposed to an hour-long sermon or a 300-page book, is just what you need for that moment. It’s a casual conversation between Pastors John Piper, David Platt, and Matt Chandler on trials and suffering. It made me cry, of course. I was the most touched by Matt Chandler’s words on being “perplexed, but not in despair.” And I learned that David Platt has faced infertility in the past, which led to my next encouragement…

4.) This short interview with Heather Platt was used by God to speak to one of my biggest fears right now — how to rejoice (and not wilt) when my close friend, who is pregnant, gets back to town in a couple months. Sometimes (not all the time, I know), it’s also nice to hear a good post-infertility, God-came-through story, which the Platts have.

5.) I also want to read Charles Spurgeon’s Beside Still Waters, which has great reviews. I heard CJ Mahaney read it daily to his daughter when she was in the hospital with childbirth complications. It sort of looks like you can get the pdf for free here, but so far I haven’t gotten it to work. Let me know if you do, because there isn’t a Kindle version for sale that I can find, unfortunately.

stillwaters

6.) I read that factoid about Mahaney in this little list of resources I randomly came across. It’s meant for pastors to prepare their congregations for suffering, but I breached the system and am bringing it straight to you, no middle man. It has a few more books you may want to look into.

What are some places you’ve found truth-filled encouragement (big or small) recently? Perhaps a video clip, a sermon, a book, an article, a devotional or a song? Please add to my list! 

Oh what peace we often forfeit!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

This is a classic hymn with a heavy message of truth. If you don’t already, would begin to cultivate the habit of coming to God before anything else? When you’re grieved, burdened, angry, not sure what to do next, feeling alone, tempted, or depressed. When you’re anxious, worried, afraid, or doubtful. Let your first response be to come to the Lord. Don’t pray a pre-written prayer, don’t try to wax poetic. Just lay your heart out, and ask Him to cover your needs with grace. He can change your mood, your feelings, your weaknesses. We have the great, unique “privilege to carry everything to the Lord in prayer” — don’t waste it!

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

friend